November 24, 2015
Whenever I pick up a debut author's book, I always have my fingers crossed. It's always harder for me to review a debut author as opposed to one who has been around for a while. I expect more from veteran authors. I am of the belief that reviews are highly subjective, and are only one person’s opinion. Let's look at this one person’s opinion of A Wicked Way to Win an Earl by Anna Bradley.
The book begins promising enough. It starts in 1783 and there is an elopement going on. I was actually intrigued by the two female characters in the prologue, Caroline Swan and Millicent Chase. Their exchanges were exciting and I was looking forward to finding out more about their stories. However, the author took another path. In the opening chapter she has jumped forward to 1814 and the daughters of Millicent: Delia and Lily. It seems that Delia and Lily have been invited to a house party at the Earl of Sutherland's estate. This could be disastrous, because you see Millicent was about to become engaged to Hart, the Earl of Sutherland. But she had other plans. She eloped with her beloved Mr. Somerset. As you may have guessed, this caused quite a scandal. It was an embarrassment caused by Delia's mother and perpetrated on the Sutherlands. As far as I could tell there was only one Sutherland who was still upset by the old scandal, and that was our hero Alec. All the other Sutherland's in the book either were very forgiving or forgetful; that includes Alec's two sisters, his brother Robyn, and his mother. Alec was the only one who was perturbed. By the way Alec is the hero.
Alec and Delia. Alec and Delia's introduction as a couple was highly amusing. Delia's carriage has been in a wreck, the coachman injured, Lily is incapacitated, so Delia has to go find help. Let's just say her path to finding help leaves her a muddy mess. While she is grumbling about that mess, she stumbles across a man and a woman having a hot tryst. I mean hands under skirts and buttons on pants flying. As it turns out, it is Alec having a bit of sport with a local village maid or some peasant girl or someone of lower social standing than he. He's a real lord of the manor. Anyway, this initial meeting is rather humorous, with Alec and Delia unleashing their inner sarcastic voices - sniping and biting at each other - until. Delia finds out that Alec is the Earl and it is his home she is invited to. At first she feels a bit chagrined, but then Alec just cannot help doing little digs. He doesn't know why he likes to irritate Delia, he just does. Then Alec discovers that his brother Robyn is interested in Delia. It is at this point that he decides it is a good idea to ruin Delia. And, this is when the story started to go downhill for me. I place the blame fully on Alec.
I found Alec’s character totally juvenile – like, totally. I would say he reminded me of a high school boy, but some of his antics were much younger than that. I had visions of kids passing notes - "I like you, do you like me? If you do put an X here." The whole idea of ruining Delia was just bizarre, it made no sense. How could he believe that ruining someone would create a scandal only for Delia and not his own family? And, how immature must one be to actually set out to destroy someone’s reputation? On top of that was the blinding jealousy that happened every time Delia so much as smiled at another man. He's also over-the-top jealous, dangerously so. By the end of this story I had grown to dislike Alec so much, I just wanted it all to be over. There isn't too much an author can do to save a story if the hero is a bonehead.
Does this mean I will not read any more on Ms. Bradley's books? No, I'll probably pick up her next one and keep my fingers crossed. It was Alec. I just could not like him. What a bonehead.
Time/Place: Regency England
Idea, writing, most characters: